If we ever questioned why Laurent Vaillé‘s Domaine de la Grange des Pères Rouge has attained cult status, a recent tasting of an early 2000s vintage presented us the answer. It was near perfection. Layers of earthy, herbal complexity balanced by sweet, joyous, mature dark fruits and all the hallmark aromatics of the Languedoc terroir including garrigue, olive, and spice, to name just a few. It was truly one of the most complex yet exuberant wines ever to pass our lips.
Laurent’s 25 acre property is sited near the village of Aniane, next to the late Aimé Guibert’s Mas de Daumas Gassac (another superstar of the region). Many believe that Laurent has eclipsed his neighbor in wine terms. Indeed, it took dynamite and bulldozing to clear twice the amount of limestone, boulders, and glacial scree that is found in neighboring vineyards to reveal Laurent’s exceptional terroir. This is an area of the Languedoc that is known to produce some of the greatest wines in the region. Laurent’s vineyards are technically within the rising appellation of Terrasses du Larzac but since he uses a portion of grape varieties that are not allowed he has declassified the wine to Vin de Pays de l’Hérault.
The path to glory started with training under such masters as Jean-François Coche-Dury (Meursault), Gérard Chave (Hermitage), and Eloi Dürrbach (Domaine Trévallon, Provence). This background in wine-craftmanship is evident in every bottle that comes from his cellar. It also helps that he sourced his Syrah cuttings from Chave and his Cabernet Sauvignon from Domaine Trévallon.
Laurent employs organic practices in the vineyard and his south-facing vines yield small amounts of fruit, making for highly concentrated wines. The blend is generally around 40% Syrah, 40% Mourvedre, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Counoise. All varieties are harvested and vinified and then aged in 228 liter barrels separately. Laurent will then master the blend in a proportion that satisfies him before bottling. The simultaneous restraint and power of his wines makes them ideal for aging yet the 2012 is certainly accessible now.
With an annual production of less than 3,000 cases Laurent’s wines are highly allocated so we have a very limited supply. And if you’re interested in picking up a bottle with some age we have a couple of the 2004 vintage available.